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February 19, 2024

Final Apology

By Terry Petersen

Dear Helen,

I'm sorry. Three syllables, like tiny drops of water offering to renew a desert. I'll whisper them to Lyle during his funeral. Tomorrow. Even if it is too late.

Remember how Lyle always was a tad different? Borrowed Mom's lipstick when he was five and painted his lips instead of the wall. Mom didn't understand. She couldn't understand anyone. Her affect mimicked the uneven beige wallpaper flowers in our attic storage room. Not only bland. Disconnected. Didn't matter what anybody did. When Lyle's report cards dropped from A's to failing in middle school, she reacted the same way. Numbed on antipsychotics. Better than when she wasn't.

Then Dad left and took him with him. Good move. At least Lyle graduated. Got a commercial art degree and a good job until his boss found out. You know. Downhill developed into an avalanche after that.

You managed the falls, like always.

Yet, Lyle called you from Michigan. Often. You told the latest Mom-sitting-on-the-porch-naked stories and sent him exotic pears. Shared hair dye secrets.

No surprise when Mom died in the expensive facility. Just before her sixtieth birthday. And the cash ran out.

You got busier. And busier. Took on more work than anyone else on the sales team.

When Lyle called and said he needed to talk, you were working on contracts. Two at the same time. You told him you'd call him later. He swallowed so hard you heard it. In the noisy office with rock music in the background. In desperate memory now.

Then came the call from Dad. The note. The details ...

I can't write anymore now. Later. Maybe. Can't sign a letter written to myself. When I'm ready to step past the fact that Helen Macy could have stopped her brother's suicide and didn't.

And forgive her -- forgive me ... forgive me ... Tell me about how I held up the mountain before it fell. One more time.

Article © Terry Petersen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2019-11-04
Image(s) © Terry Petersen. All rights reserved.
1 Reader Comments
11:46:22 PM
Poignant. Suicide has many echoes.
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